I was fired from my dream job. It was a beautiful morning that began like most others. I got up early, stretched and listened to a recording of the bible. Then I went to the kitchen, poured myself a half cup of almond milk and added some coffee that was leftover from what my husband had made earlier that morning. My daughters soon joined me at the table and within an hour we were crossing the bridge and heading Uptown. I dropped each of them off at school, then drove to my job, still excited about the beauty of the previous night.
Shortly after arriving I realized my supervisor was there, which wasn’t unusual. He often made random appearances and had attended our annual Mardi Gras ball the night before. I began my normal morning routine by making a cup of tea, reviewing reports from the day before, and checking my email. Then I headed to the conference room for our daily team meeting. In addition to discussing the admissions, census, staffing, hospitalizations, incidents, accidents, grievances, therapy, and everything else required to successfully manage a skilled nursing facility, I made an extra effort to thank my team. Each of them played a significant role in creating a memorable Mardi Gras ball for the residents of the home. I emphasized that I was especially grateful for, and proud of their flexibility and adaptation to the many changes that had been implemented during the previous six months. That home had an awful reputation for years, so much so that the state replaced the previous leadership with the management company that hired me. I was proud, optimistic and excited about leading a dedicated, talented team of caregivers who were determined to make things better. We were all thankful for the opportunity to turn a dire living situation into a safe, comfortable home where elderly and disabled people could thrive. The tiny victories were accumulating and we were building something beautiful.
While work was both challenging and rewarding, home was too. It was neither bad nor good, simply different than what we were accustomed to. My brother-in-law had invited us to live in his home until we found one to purchase, allowing us to quickly eliminate debt, improve credit, and save money. Living there was a sound financial decision. It also had the added benefit of giving our children time with their grandmother, who had also recently moved into the home, their uncle, who they adored, and his long-time girlfriend, who was generally a sweetheart. Watching my husband and his big brother interact with their mom was variously entertaining and informative. The kids enjoyed their uncle and aunt and everything seemed alright. At first combining households was easy but over time it grew challenging.
Our family of five lived in three of the four upstairs bedrooms, which were small but certainly adequate. Having sold or given away most of our furniture and household items before moving back to Louisiana, our remaining belongings were in a small storage unit nearby. We had hoped to be settled into a home of our own before Christmas but as weeks passed on, we all grew restless. Visiting loved ones is one thing. Living in their home – adjusting to someone else’s routine, lifestyle, communication, and habits – isn’t always easy. Different homes have different vibes. Our peace was derived from our politeness. We accepted that we were not in our own home and therefore couldn’t expect what we considered normal – yet we craved the peace of comfort, consistency and calm that we were used to. Finally, two days after my 42nd birthday, we closed on a lovely house in a quiet neighborhood just a few miles from the home we had sold when we moved out of state. It was everything we had wanted and we were all thrilled and relieved.
My coworkers knew of our house hunt and celebrated with me when I told them of the new home. The following week I was still receiving congratulations, even at the Mardi Gras ball. I even got a few suggestions on where to find certain home items that I wanted to purchase. After returning to New Orleans and starting a job that I loved, I finally had the stability and sanctuary of my own home. I was fired eleven days after closing.
Such is life when businesses change ownership. I was angry, hurt and confused. I never had a chance to say goodbye to the residents that I loved and the team that I respected. I was told that they decided to change directions because I was inefficient. When I sought details and examples to support the accusation, none were given. Briefly, I hated the corporate team members who chose to replace me. Very briefly, until I considered the residents who had already suffered miserably, I hoped their efforts to improve the facility failed without me. Now I pray for the corporate team – not as often and with as much love as I pray for the residents and staff, but with sincerity, because I know that the residents and staff will ultimately benefit from or suffer for the decisions of corporate officials.
As for me, I’m thankful for the opportunities that lie ahead of me. I’m always going to advocate for elders and now I’m free to do it my way. I’m building systems and organizations that will benefit not only the elders of this community, but everyone who has a relationship with them. I’m also balancing the needs of my husband, our children, our parents, our community, and of course, our new house. I almost forgot to mention my own needs. So here I am, building, balancing, and feeling blessed to be able to manage it all. I suspect you’re building and balancing too. Tell me about it.